From “NWTC medical program achieves national distinction” — Northeast Wisconsin Technical College has received a Certificate of Merit from the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting for achieving a graduate pass rate above 90 percent on the national Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) credentialing exam.

NWTC is one of only 152 colleges in the nation to achieve the distinction.

Students in NWTC’s Surgical Technologist program prepare the operating room by setting up surgical instruments, equipment, drapes and solutions.  They also provide safe patient care, check charts, assist the surgeon mid-surgery, and help transfer patients to the recovery room among a variety of other duties.

In a 2011-2012 Graduate Follow-up, Surgical Technologist graduates reported job placement rates of nearly 90 percent, working as surgical technologists, central supply technicians, private scrub technologists, and claims approvers. Median wages for graduates was over $36,000.

NWTC’s Surgical Technologist technical diploma is a three-semester program that is completed in 37 credits. For more information on the Surgical Technologist technical diploma and other programs and degrees, visit

Work + education = success

August 29, 2013

From “MPS takes a look at intensive technical training proposal” — What has proven to be one effective way to get Wisconsin high school students at risk of dropping out to earn their diploma and reinvest themselves in their future?

Pay them to do it.

That’s what the rapidly expanding GPS Education Partners, formerly the Second Chance Partners for Education, has been doing for more than 10 years in the state.

But these students aren’t just taking handouts. They’re earning their pay by working nearly full time in various businesses — primarily within manufacturing and similar technical fields — while also taking classes toward their diploma year-round on-site.

This fall, the group, which boasts a 90% high school graduation rate and 203 graduates to date, is seeking to expand into Milwaukee Public Schools and serve eight to 10 students across the city in its first year.

The group’s contract goes before the School Board for approval Thursday night, and the administration backs the approval of the program, according to MPS spokesman Tony Tagliavia.

The city would be the 16th site in Wisconsin for GPS Education Partners. If the contract is approved, the group would have 215 students enrolled in the 21-month program, which relies on partnerships with businesses and school districts to function.

In Milwaukee, students would likely be selected from interested applicants at Bradley Tech High School, James Madison High School and the School of Career and Technical Education, formerly known as Custer High School, according to Tagliavia.

Those students would spend time working at Strattec Security Corp., Monarch LLC, Brady Corp. and others, according to an announcement from the education nonprofit earlier this summer.

The selected students typically are chosen because they have struggled or have become disengaged in a traditional high school setting and are interested in pursuing a technical career after high school. During the program, the students rotate between two to three different businesses and learn six to 10 different manufacturing jobs over the 21 months. Students typically begin the program in their junior year.

For six hours a day, students work alongside an adult mentor in manufacturing plants or warehouses and learn different skills, from welding to skills with technology and heavy machinery. For two hours a day, the students converge in a classroom on-site at one of the businesses and are taught traditional academic material by a state certified teacher.

In addition to a diploma from their original high school and graduating with their class, the students earn a two-year Youth Apprenticeship Certificate from the state Department of Workforce Development and earn advanced standing in the Wisconsin Technical College System. They also become a certified production technician though the Manufacturing Skills Standard Council.

Both Tagliavia and MPS’ Career and Technical Education coordinator Eric Radomski said the program fits into MPS’ mission because it provides another pathway that could contribute to success for the students involved.

“Our goal is that students graduate with the skill set necessary to succeed in whichever path they’re interested,” Tagliavia says.

Tagliavia says the program’s successful track record makes him optimistic that the program will succeed in the city. The organization has worked in surrounding suburbs as well as cities such as Green Bay and Appleton, but MPS will be the first time GPS has operated in a completely urban setting.

GPS President Stephanie Borowski says she is confident the model will translate effectively into the city, saying there is a high level of flexibility within the classrooms because of the low student-to-teacher ratio, which consistently hovers around 8-to-1.

While MPS has many other programs that are geared toward introducing students to technical fields and preparing those interested in the field for that pursuit, GPS Education Partners would be the most intense technical program within the district.

While other programs offer students the opportunity to work in such a setting, none goes as far as educating the students on-site in a classroom at one of the businesses.

Garrett Crish graduated, by virtue of the program, from Menomonee Falls High School in 2009.

To this day, Crish, who now works in a New Berlin warehouse, credits the organization with turning his life around.

“I can honestly say that the Second Chance Program changed my life. I was on the fast track to nowhere, and at the time I couldn’t have cared less,” Crish says. “Working in real warehouses with real hardworking people was the strong kick in the butt I needed as a 17-year-old.”

Crish, 23, said that while the program did not directly land him a job upon graduation, it gave him the tools and work ethic he needed to impress during a seasonal job at a warehouse that eventually landed him a full-time job at the New Berlin distribution center.

David Mitchell, president and CEO of Monarch LLC, which has worked with the group since 2010 and typically brings in two students each year through the program, will add one MPS student this year if the contract is approved Thursday, he said.

The company, which specializes in the fabrication of heavy equipment, allows the students to develop welding skills.

Mitchell says one student excelled during his time with the company and was in turn hired on upon his graduation as a welder.

Borowski says 60% of past students have gone on to immediately seek work after the program, 35% have continued on with their education beyond high school and 5% join the military.

For the business, the cost is “relatively low,” Mitchell says, though Monarch does not break even on the program. He says he looks at it as giving back to the community as well as preparing the next generation of the workforce.

GPS Educational Partners maintains its financing through donations as well as shared per-pupil allotments from the state with participating districts and contributions from participating businesses.


■ Students rotate among two to three businesses and learn six to 10 manufacturing jobs over 21 months.

■ For six hours a day, students work alongside an adult mentor in manufacturing plants or warehouses.

■ For two hours a day, students converge in a classroom on-site at one of the businesses and are taught traditional academic material by a state certified teacher.


From “From referendum to reality” — by Jen Zettel -These are heady times at Fox Valley Technical College, as finishing touches are being put on two major projects authorized in a 2012 referendum.

By a 2-1 margin, voters approved a $66.5 million referendum that called for the construction of three new facilities and the expansion of two existing buildings.

The college will host a media event Wednesday at its Appleton campus to unveil the $11.9 million Health Simulation and Technology Center.

The focus this week was a naming rights agreement with Service Motor Co. of Dale for the agriculture center, which received a $3.5 million expansion from the referendum. The facility is almost completed. An open house for both facilities is set for Oct. 1.

Nearly 2,800 square feet of classrooms and computer labs were added for agribusiness courses. Existing spaces were renovated into labs for hands-on learning.

Dustin Korth, a 20-year-old agribusiness and science technology student from Waldo, likes the flexibility of the new spaces.

“This is beautiful … the new classrooms are 10 times better than they were before,” Korth said. “It’s nice to have more room to accommodate more students. Like last year, packing 28 students into some rooms with four rows of tables was not comfortable at all.”

The agriculture industry is not just alive and well in Wisconsin, but flourishing, said Jim Sommer, president of Service Motor Co. The increased demand for agriculture programs — which has grown at FVTC by 87 percent since 2008 — is why the company continues its 30-plus year relationship with the college.

The equipment dealer solidified its ties to FVTC even further by donating $1.1 million for naming rights to the newly expanded agriculture center, now known as the Service Motor Co. Agriculture Center at Fox Valley Technical College.

The gift is a combination of student scholarships, equipment donations and financial support, Sommer said.

The need for skilled workers in precision agriculture, agricultural power and agribusiness will increase as technology advances, Sommer said.

“We know there’s going to be a growing need. Over the next 10 to 20 years, we’ll need employees,” Sommer said. “By providing financial support, we’re hoping to ensure quality graduates.”

The new Health Simulation and Technology Center will be a hub for the college’s medical-related programs. The three-story building features a virtual hospital, classrooms, a computer lab and physical therapy suites.

The facility will provide students with experience in real-world situations.

Bob Sternhagen, human patient simulation coordinator, said every major institution that trains medical professionals has a simulation lab.

“That’s the beauty of simulation: students can mess up, they can make mistakes and nobody gets harmed,” Sternhagen said.

Students also will learn how to work with professionals in other areas, including police officers, firefighters, paramedics, medical assistants, nurses and occupational therapy assistants.

“This is patient care as a cooperative type of event because whatever a police officer does on the scene of an auto crash will impact what a paramedic or EMT does, which will impact what an ER doctor does … it may mean the difference between a patient not surviving or surviving with a poor outcome,” Sternhagen said.

Officials invited members of the Fox Valley Healthcare Alliance to tour the facility earlier this week. Education consultant Jen Meyer represented ThedaCare, and she was impressed.

“It’s unreal,” Meyer said. “This is such a valuable asset for our community. Not only will it provide an amazing opportunity for area students, but for our existing health care workforce as well.”


From “WITC ranks 4th best two-year college in the nation” — Students at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in Superior have a lot to be proud of in their school.

A recent study by Washington Monthly ranks WITC the 4th best two year college nationwide, moving the university up two spots from 2010.

In 2007, Washington Monthly combined results from a nonprofit organization called the Community College Survey of Student Engagement with graduation rates published by the U.S. Department of Education to create the first-ever list of America’s best community/technical colleges. That year, WITC ranked seventh.

In 2010, updated information was compiled and WITC moved up to sixth.

This year, the list was updated with new CCSSE data ranking roughly 700 community/technical colleges nationwide in order to identify the 50 best community/technical colleges of 2013, moving WITC up to 4th place.

“The movement up in the rankings is confirmation that the College’s strategic plan and continuous improvement activities are making a difference for our students,” says WITC President Bob Meyer. “These results show how incredibly committed WITC’s entire staff is to making the students’ experience at WITC outstanding and rewarding.”

The CCSSE survey is comprised of more than 100 questions on a range of topics including teaching practices, student workload, interaction with faculty, and student support.

WITC’s highest CCSSE scores were reflected in the “Active and Collaborative Learning” category. The WITC benchmark for “Student-faculty Interaction” was also high.


From “BTC – Monroe campus director named” — MONROE — Matthew Urban, a native of Monroe who has spent the past five years in three different roles at Blackhawk Technical College-Monroe Campus, has been named Director of the Monroe Campus by BTC President Dr. Thomas Eckert.

Urban will be responsible for the overall administrative operations and public outreach at the Monroe Campus.

Urban succeeds Jennifer Thayer, who left BTC to become the Superintendent of Schools in New Glarus.

Urban began his BTC career in 2007 as an Adjunct Instructor before adding the jobs of Learning Resource Specialist and Student Development Specialist to his responsibilities.

Prior to joining BTC, Urban spent 13 years as the Executive Director of the Monroe Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He also served as the Community Relations Coordinator at The Monroe Clinic and Operations and Programming Director for radio station WEKZ.

Urban is a 1983 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with an undergraduate degree in Speech Communication. In 2010, he earned a Masters of Science degree in Education at UW-Platteville.


From “AT&T donation will support program designed to educate, encourage high school students to consider jobs in the manufacturing field” — AT&T Wisconsin announced today that the Waukesha County Technical College (WCTC) Foundation has received a $5,000 AT&T Innovation & Investment Award to support the “Schools2Skills™” program.

The “Schools2Skills™” program takes Waukesha County high school students, parents and educators on tours of three manufacturing facilities and the WCTC Engineering and Manufacturing Center. The goal is to inspire participants to learn about manufacturing careers available in Waukesha County, including career paths, salaries and the education required to succeed in today’s manufacturing environment.

“We know many of our manufacturers are looking for workers to fill highly skilled, technologically advanced jobs,” said Ellen S. Phillips, President of WCTC Foundation. “Part of our mission is to educate our young people that manufacturing has changed and evolved over time. Today’s manufacturing is much more advanced and focused on technology, and this AT&T contribution will help us further our efforts to educate and encourage students to consider exciting careers in manufacturing.”

A partnership with the WCTC Foundation and the Waukesha County Business Alliance, the “Schools2Skills™” program was created to address the manufacturing talent shortage in Waukesha County. The program provides high school students from 12 different school districts in Waukesha County with an introduction to the careers that exist in manufacturing. About 500 students are expected to participate this coming school year.

“The WCTC Foundation and Waukesha County Business Alliance are doing important work to connect our manufacturers with the skilled workers they need to continue to compete in today’s high-tech, global economy,” said State Senator Paul Farrow (R-Pewaukee). “This program is a great way to get young people excited about and engaged in the manufacturing profession.”

The AT&T Wisconsin Innovation & Investment Award program provides funding to organizations and programs that improve the community by: advancing education, enhancing the environment, promoting economic development, or delivering other community services. This is the second year of the new program that supports local organizations that enhance and give back to their communities.

“We are very proud to support the efforts of Waukesha County business and education leaders to engage students in the exciting, promising careers available in advanced manufacturing,” said AT&T Wisconsin Director of External Affairs Tricia Conway. “As a company, AT&T is committed to investing in education and helping prepare our young people for future success.”

From “Jail educators prep for GED test changes” — Changes are coming to the GED test in Wisconsin that could make it harder to pass the high school equivalency exam.

Willa MacKenzie is the jail educator from Western Technical College. She works with inmates at the La Crosse County Jail, in an effort to help them complete their GED. In 2012 and 2013 about 40 percent of those who started the exam, successfully competed it.

“The thing about the jail setting is they don’t have that outside network of friends to deal with,” MacKenzie. “They don’t have the problems and the addictions in jail so it really is a nice clean, clear time for them to complete.”

Beginning January 1, there will be changes to the GED in the state of Wisconsin. The test will only be administered on a computer, so test takers must have basic keyboarding and computer skills. It will also be harder..and condensed in to four sections instead of five

“We’ve raised the level of things people need to be able to do,” said Chad Dull, the dean of instructional support services at Western Technical College. “There’s very little memorization, it’s more comprehension and being able to respond to text and make an argument.”

While the new test is more difficult, educators say those who successfully complete it are more prepared to continue their education or enter the workforce.

“On the current test, when you write you write a 5 paragraph essay based on a random prompt, which is not a very real world thing to do,” Dull said. “Now you’re going to read things and respond to them in writing which really mirrors more of what most of us do in the real world.”

Mackenzie says many of the inmates she works with have the skills to pass the exam, they just need to know how to apply them.

“What we’re looking for is them to understand something they read, understand what the argument is and use that argument to back up their opinion,” MacKenzie said. “And I think that’s what these people can do in real time and that’s what gets them ready for the work force. So I think those skills together that they already have on board, for survival skills, if we can channel those, they’re going to be good.”

Anyone in the jail interested in completing their GED is able to get in to the classroom 3 to 4 times a week. And Mackenzie says if you started the GED, you must finish before the new test in January, or you will have to start over.



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